What to Do in Washington DC during COVID

Washington DC is slowly reopening but there are still many locations that are not open to the public just yet.

If you’re looking for what to do in Washington DC in 2020, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate what is open in DC right now.

This page was updated on October 09, 2020


Please note that Washington DC has some guidelines for visiting:

  • Face coverings must be appropriately worn while in public
  • There is a mandatory quarantine period for visitors from some states, you can find more here.

What to Do in Washington DC during COVID

1. Take a Walking Tour

We offer a number of walking tours right now! All tours take safety precautions such as mandatory face coverings, small groups, no interior stops and physical distancing.

 

 

You can join us for tours of:

  • National Mall
  • Historic Georgetown
  • Lincoln’s Assassination
  • True Crime & Scandals of Capitol Hill, Georgetown, or Embassy Row
  • Ghosts of Georgetown

2. Get a Timed Ticket to a Smithsonian Museum

While not all the Smithsonian Museums are open, a number of them have opened with new opening times and timed reservations required to limit the total number of people inside at a time.

Which Smithsonian Museums are Open right now?

The National Zoo, Ford’s Theatre, Washington Monument, National Archives and National Gallery of Art are also open but we talk about them below.

3. Explore the Memorials

One of the highlights of visiting Washington DC is touring the National Mall. You can take a guided tour of the memorials with us on a in-person guided walking tour or a self guided audio tour.

 

 

All the memorials on the National Mall and Tidal Basin are open to visitors, though some of the small interior museums are closed.

The Washington Monument is also currently open with advanced timed tickets required. You can read more about going to the top of the Washington Monument on our post.

4. Walk through a historic neighborhood

Neighborhoods like Georgetown and Alexandria offer pre-revolutionary charm, and U Street NW was once known as Black Broadway.

 

 

A stroll through these neighborhoods offers photo ops, charm and if you walk with one of our self guided audio tours, a lot of history.

We offer audio tours of three historic neighborhoods:

  • Historic Georgetown
  • U Street NW
  • Old Town Alexandria

5. Take a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour

Big Bus Tours have recently reopened in Washington DC with enhanced safety measures.

Bus Tours allow you to hop on and hop off at select sites with a guided narration as you drive between. This is a good way to see sites but also get around the city.

Read more about Bus Tours in DC or Buy Your Ticket Here.

6. Become a Spy at the International Spy Museum

One of our favorite museums in DC has reopened! Here you have a chance to explore their new location and learn about the tricks of the espionage trade.

The Spy Museum is open daily.

You can read more about the International Spy Museum here.

7. Pay Respects at Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington Cemetery is open to graveside visits if you have a particular person you’d like to pay respects to.

 

 

The JFK memorial is open as well but other popular tour spots like Arlington House and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are not open to the public just yet.

8. Eat at a local restaurant

DC has a lot of great places to eat! You can Support DC Businesses by ordering to go or eating on some of the outdoor patios. Many restaurants will have heated patio seating as the days get cooler.

Some of our favorite places to eat are:

  • Martin’s Tavern (Georgetown)
  • Founding Farmers (Foggy Bottom)
  • Queen Vic (H St NE)
  • Hamilton (Downtown)
  • Pizza Paradisio (Georgetown)

9. See the animals at the National Zoo

The National Zoo is mostly outdoors so it is reopen, with some changes. Timed tickets are required and some exhibits are closed.

The Zoo is open 8am to 4pm daily.

While the timed tickets are free, if you want to park it is $30 which includes timed tickets for your entire car.

 

But you’ll get to see the elephants, tigers & more.

The Panda exhibit is also closed because we have a baby panda! You can still watch the Panda online with the Panda Cam.

10. Visit the National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art offers a chance to see the only Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas, as well as Turners, Titians and more.

You can visit with free timed passes, released at 10am each Monday for the following week. You’ll have 30 minutes to enter between 11am and 3pm though the galleries are open until 4pm.

Remember you don’t need passes to visit the outdoor sculpture gardens!

11. See the Charters of Freedom

The National Archives will reopen the rotunda, which displays the Constitution, Decleration of Independence, and Bill of Rights on Saturdays from 10am-2pm. Advanced timed tickets are required for this.

 

 

Youtube Subscribe

12. See the theatre and museum at Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre is reopening just the museum and theatre starting October 14. (This means that the Aftermath Exhibits and Peterson’s House (where Lincoln died) are still closed.

Advanced timed tickets are required and available to groups of 6 or fewer.

Ford’s Theatre tickets are included on some of our premium Lincoln Assassination Walking Tours.

12. Explore the Great Outdoors

In addition to the National Mall, Washington DC has a lot of open green space for exploring.

  • Teddy Roosevelt Island
  • National Arboretum
  • Oak Hill Cemetery
  • Congressional Cemetery

Our hiking expert, Bob, has written a whole post about finding hiking in the DC area.


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About the author

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 3 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the host of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All

With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 25 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.